Henry Tracey Coxwell

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Henry Tracey Coxwell was an English aeronaut, born in Wouldham at the Rectory on the 2nd March 1819.

From a young age, Coxwell was very interested in ballooning, which was then in its early stages. He made his first ascent in 1844. Four years later, he became a professional aeronaut, making many public ascents.

By 1861, he had made over 400 assents and a year later, in 1862, he reached the greatest height on record, about 11,877m (39,000ft). With frostbitten hands, Coxwell opened the gas valve with his teeth, making a rapid but safe descent back to land.

The legacy of this and his other ballooning adventures made some very important contributions to meteorology science.

Henry Tracey Coxwell died in Sussex on the 5th January 1900, making his last ever ascent in 1885.

Photo kindly provided by Roger Webb.


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